The lovely ladies of WORN need to explain just how they manage to top their previous issues. I mean, just look at this cover.
I remember the first time I picked up WORN: I was in high school, shopping for my prom dress. I went the vintage route, and stumbled across the issue at MASKARADE — it was casually displayed amongst the old pillbox hats and pearls. I picked it up and read it cover to cover in just one sitting. Finally, I thought, a magazine that appreciates clothing like I do. (I was at an all-girls Catholic school, and had to deal with girls whose fashion knowledge spanned the tacky and the visibly expensive. They also loved a good logo…everywhere.)
[My first issue of WORN. I have since lost it. I am forgetful. I also moved. My father also likes to recycle precious paper sans consulting.]
I basically encountered WORN at an age when I was thinking about clothing and personal style, and it helped shape how I appreciate clothing to this day. And if there was ever a doubt about my views on fashion, well the next issue would reveal another perspective on fashion I had considered, but could never properly articulate (Issue 5’s Essay “The F Word: A Place for Fashion in Feminism” was huge for me.) But enough about me, and more on the new issue.
The theme for this issue was the idea of the archive: how clothing encapsulates ideas, cultural norms, and expectations into the very threads that hold a garment together. WORN has touched on this idea before (Issue 10’s “Second Hand Stories”). This previous idea was expanded into more anecdotes and essays like “Archive,” “To Conserve and Protect,” “Flights of Fancy” and “Heaps on Heaps” where clothing is seen as an embodiment of cultural and societal expectations — gender issues, memory, and collecting — and all of this meaning is packed in the very fragile objects that even the most experience of textile conservators cannot repair.
My favorite piece was definitely “Heaps on Heaps”. Grant Heaps, I want to be your friend forever. Heaps cares for costumes at the National Ballet of Canada AND he collects fabrics to create these beautiful, elaborate quilts. (DIY or DIE, I say!) His home is a giant museum too: Chucks in every color, ties, toys, books, patterns — I’ll let you check out his house in the issue so I don’t, you know, spoil the surprise.
"Flights of Fancy" is probably one of the most insightful fashion pieces I have read recently. Who knew one uniform could be laden with so many forms of oppression! Stewardess ideals? “Performing gender as the job?” The uniforms you see today have come a long way and so have the job expectations. Hemlines have been shortened and lengthened, and along with the extra fabric came an end to airline advertising slogans like “Hi, I’m Cheryl — Fly Me.” Stewardesses have fulfilled job roles such as on-board nurse, hostess, and “the swinging stewardess.” And it’s no wonder the uniform has drastically changed since Ellen Church first boarded a plane as an on-board nurse in 1930.
In the market for vintage glasses? Want to know what to avoid? This guide to vintage spec shopping, by Stephanie Fereiro, warns of cheap resins that are destined to distort your frames, and how to figure out if your vintage frames can hold your precious prescription. There is even a glossary of eyeglasses so you can be extra demanding the next time you are in the market for some new eyewindows. Pince-Nez, why not?
And this editorial is just awesome because it features shots like “I’ll braid your hair if you braid my hair while I braid my shoulder weave.” It also features a zebra cameo?
All in all, WORN continues to surprise me: every issue features stories I would never even conceive as being fashion related. And the magazine never alienates others; it only asks its readers to have an open mind, and look at their clothing, or their heirlooms through different eyes. WORN manages to articulate ideas that people often overlook when discussing fashion and offers an academic approach to the study of clothing. (So to the “intellectuals” who always scoff at people studying or appreciating clothing, I’ll be throwing a stack of WORN back issues at you.)
On a tender note, I always cuddle my new issue of WORN and I find myself immersed in it for an entire metro ride home. And I never feel guilty reading it during a study break. And that’s saying something, because I still feel like I’m geeking out in a way — sometimes their articles read like academic essays — only they’re more accessible and enjoyable.
[I’m also proud of this publication because it started out in Montreal.]
So thank you, WORN, and I can’t wait to see what Issue 12 is going to look like.